Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Stereotype Or Just A Category?

Please answer the following questions about Joel Charon's "Should We Generalize About People?"
1. Does Charon believe that categories and generalizations are useful? Why/Why not?

2.What is the difference between a generalization and a stereotype?

3.  What are some groups that you belong to that have been stereotyped?  Have you ever experienced that?
 

After reading Joel Charon's "Should We Generalize..." hopefully, you realize that yes we must generalize because it is what makes us intelligent human beings. But our great strength as humans can also be a horrible flaw. If we do not generalize and categorize accurately then we run the risk of stereotyping. We must realize that although individuals can be categorized into certain groups, it doesn't mean that all individuals fit that group's generalization. Toward the end of the reading, Charon says,
"If we are open-minded and reflective, we can even evaluate how good or how poor our generalizations are, and we can alter what we know as we move from situation to situation."
This is both the task and the promise of sociology. Sociology challenges us to think about our generalizations and assumptions about what we know and it promises us that with proper thought and care we can understand people better. There is a poem I like that illustrates Charon's point. The poem called "The Cookie Thief" by Valerie Cox. We are all cookie thieves sometimes in how we erroneously use the categories that Charon talks about. When was the last time you were too quick to categorize or judge someone? Have you ever been stereotyped or judged wrongly?

Here is a link to a video called I am an American that shows the dangerous power that extreme stereotypes can lead to.
In this case, Islam is the example, but it could be any religion or ethnicity or whatever group. United States' history is littered with examples of groups that have been scapegoated and vilified. This is how Muslims have been treated in many cases in post 911 America. But I have had so many Muslim students who prove that this is just a stereotype. And that is what this video is showing. There are caring, loving, neighborly Muslims all around us but extreme stereotypes lead us to only see the stereotype and ignore the reality.  Here is a link to a page hoping to end stereotypes about Muslims.

One example of people stereotyping quickly might be this Washington Post experiment in which Joshua Bell, violin virtuoso, played some of the greatest classical pieces ever written on one of the most expensive violins ever made. And yet few people noticed because he was dressed like an average guy and he was playing in the subway. Maybe people assumed he was a homeless streetperformer, so why stop and listen?

Some other examples of people shattering stereotypes are:

Here is an article in the Daily Herald about a motivational speaker who was born with no arms and no legs. We might categorize him as disabled, but we should be careful about the assumptions and stereotypes that go along with that category.









videoLikewise, here is a link to Nick Vujicic's website. He is a motivational speaker who also has no limbs.








videoHere is a video about Aaron Fotheringham, an "extreme sitter." Aaron has been in a wheel chair his whole life, but he sees it as an opportunity. Again, we should be careful of our stereotypes. Aaron is way more rad than I will ever be, but he is in a wheel chair and I am not. If you search youtube, you can see Aaron doing a double back flip! But there are also lots of videoes of him crashing over and over again and again. It takes hard work and lots of effort to become good at what you do.  Hard work was a theme in all of the above videoes.  And if you read the rest of Outliers, Gladwell makes the case that the most successful people spend ten thousand hours developing their skills.  The other theme that comes out in all of these videoes from Brett Eastburn to Aaron Fotheringham is that in order to find meaning in your life you must find a way to serve others.  Find a way to help other people.  You have talents.  Develop them and find a way to use them to help others.  That is your purpose.
And here is Aaron "wheels" Fotheringham at the 2016 Paralympics.




Another great source about stereotypes is episode 362 from This American Life. Click here to listen to the episode where 5 people tell stories about stereotyping. Listen to the prologue about people with disabilities, and Act One about NY cops stereotyping people coming from Brooklyn.



videoFinally, when you feel like you have been stereotyped, how do you react? What do you do? Anis Mojgani suggests that you shake the dust. Checkout his slam poem. Here is a link to his poem in writing.











videoHere is a video about a different type of street performer that also challenges your assumptions about the category "disabled".  I love how these "disabled" people see their opportunity to teach others.  Their lessons seem to be similar:  The world doesn't owe you anything.  You owe yourself hard work and dedication to become what you want.  Find a way to help others/teach others.  Don't stereotype and keep an open mind.

Monday, January 30, 2017

In-n-out is not just for burgers!

In and out is not just for burgers, it is also for groups! Sociologists use the terms ingroup and outgroup to refer to groups that you are either a member of or not a member of. It is much easier to feel attached to the groups you are a part of and feel judgmental about your outgroups.

To illustrate this, today we separated the class into two different groups. Each group made a list of reasons why the other group was wearing what they were wearing. Every time I do this lesson, the reasons break down into judgments against the other group. For example:

This was a lesson about in-groups and out-groups. In discussing the different groups that makeup society, we see that there are in-groups and out-groups. An in-group is a group that you are a part of. You have membership in it, and because of that, you feel aligned to the group and you have ownership in it. By contrast, it becomes easier to judge the out-groups, or the groups you are not a part of. As this semester goes on, be mindful of the groups that we talk about that you are not a part of. You must make a conscious effort to understand these groups. Try to become conscious of your judgments so that you can also consciously work against them. Watch this video clip about the famous "Angry Eye" classroom lesson done in the 1960s by teacher Jane Elliot. Think about how you may have judged out-groups in your own life. Also, think about how you become allied and bonded with your in-groups. Can you see how this happens in society? Can you think of examples in your own life? video You can watch the whole video at Frontline's website.

And there is an updated version of this.  Jane Elliot returns to do the experiment with college kids.  It is called Angry Eye.  Here is the link to watch it on mediacast.
I think that the point of sociological mindfulness is becoming more aware of others and part of that awareness is an understanding of how we may have portrayed that group in our own minds.  So understanding the idea of in-group/out-group dynamics is easy but applying it to ourselves is the challenging part.  In this TED talk by Sam Richards, he explains how understanding outgroups might lead to a radical experiment in  empathy.  Check it out:

Now think about your own life.  What are your in groups?  What are the outgroups that you could become more aware of, more empathetic to?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Post 3: Social Construction of Reality, Macro/Micro sociology, Research, Groups & Identity, Ingroups/outgroups, Categories & Stereotypes.

For the second half of Unit 1, we examined Social Construction of Reality, Macro/Micro sociology, Research methods, Groups and Identity, Ingroups/outgroups, Categories and Stereotypes.  A few reminders for when you post:

1) Be sure to look back at my blog and read over the posts that apply.  My posts contain explanations of what each of the concepts were that we learned and sources that apply to them.

2)Be sure to explain some of the concepts that we learned and try to apply them to an original example from your own life/experience.

3)Be sure to explain how a couple of sources apply to the sociological concepts we are learning.  Demonstrate an understanding of how the source applies to the sociology.  Some sources we have looked at: Venkatesh's "Gang Leader For A Day", Charon's "Should We Generalize", the video about racism called "Angry Eye",

4)Spell check and proofread.  Do not use casual/texting language.

Complex You: Social Statuses & Roles


Today, we listed all of the groups that make each one of us who we are. A group can be as few as two but as many as millions of people.  Students listed groups like family, friends, clubs, sports, gender, ethnicity, music, sexuality, school, age, and others. And then we listed our position or status(es) within each group. This is the social construction of our own lives-we are made up of socially-constructed groups. These groups provide identity for individuals and they provide a structure for society.
I am always interested by all of the groups that students are influenced by and especially the unexpected groups that surprise me along the way. Sometimes it is someone who I never thought to be religious and they list a religion or sometimes it is someone who I never realized was black who lists her race as an important influence on her. All of these groups we belong to are the complex way we as individuals are made up and that is the way sociologists understand individuals; through their groups. For example, I am part of a family, a school, a group of friends and a neighborhood. In each of these groups I have a status (dad, teacher, friend) and each of these statuses comes with a role that is expected of me (make dinner, show up prepared for class, return a phone call, etc...).

These groups shape my life. Each group creates expectations for your actions.  These expectations are called roles.  For example after becoming a dad I will never be the same. I can't help looking at kids through the eyes of a parent; I think about music lyrics differently; I am overly critical and cognizant of my own behavior and manners etc... These groups can also come into conflict in an individual's daily life. For example, if I have to go home and cook dinner and my daughter demands attention, it is very difficult to get grading and lessons prepared for the next day, and if a friend calls to socialize or to get together, that becomes a third conflict. My roles as a parent, teacher and friend are all conflicting. This is called role conflict. There are also times when I experience what sociologists call role strain. That is when I am having difficulty meeting the expectations of one role. An example of this might be parenting. I have never been a parent before and so when my daughter is challenging me, I am not always certain how to react; do I give in, ignore or punish her? Some statuses we choose (achieved statuses) like those I already mentioned, but sometimes we are not given a choice (ascribed statuses) like that of a balding man. Don't get me wrong - I thank goodness everyday that Michael Jordan
brought baldness back into fashion in the 90s and I hope it stays there, but I am definitely not choosing this 'do :-).

I hope this exercise helps students see that our class might seem homogeneous but really it is quite diverse. The unique diversity comes from each person's membership in different groups. I hope this is another way we can become sociologically mindful of each other in the class; that is, we can appreciate each person's unique membership in different groups.  This way we can be more understanding of each other and more compassionate for each other.
Some ideas for posting on your own blog: Explain more thoroughly about the groups that make up who you are. What is your status in that group? Which statuses are ascribed and which are achieved for you?  Have you experienced role conflict or strain? Which groups memberships were you surprised to learn about in our class?  Can you see how this lesson increases your sociological mindfulness of both yourself and our class?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

He doesn't speak Spanish, but he probably speaks Mexican!

As you enter, please take the following true-false quiz from James Henslin's Down-to-Earth Sociology book:

1. More U.S. Students are killed in school shootings the last 15 years than during the 1980s and early 90s.

2. Although women used to earn considerably less money than men, their salaries have just about caught up with those of men.

3. After a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake, people tend to panic and social organization disintegrates.

4. Most rapists are mentally ill.

5. Over 50% of those on welfare are able to work, but choose not to.

6. Compared to women, men maintain more eye contact in face-to- face conversations.

7. Couples who live together before they marry are usually more satisfied with their marriages than couples who do not live together before they marry.

8. Most Husbands of working wives who get laid off from work take up the slack around the house by increasing the amount of housework they do.

9. Because bicyclists are much more likely to wear helmets now than just a few years ago, their rate of head injuries has dropped.

10. Students in Japan are under such intense pressure that their suicide rate is double that of U.S. students.

Next, please answer the following questions on the page after Gang Leader for a Day in your packet:

Review from Abandon Ship Lesson:
1.  What does it mean to study macro sociology?
2.  What does it mean to study micro sociology?
3.  How is the Abandon Ship activity an example of the social construction of reality and the sociological imagination?

Questions from the Gang Leader reading:
4.  How was Venkatesh's survey flawed?  What are the limitations of using it?
5.  How does Venkatesh decide to study his subject in the end?  What might that research reveal that he would not have known from the survey?


Sudhir Venkatesh explores so much in his book Gang Leader for a Day. You can read an excerpt from the book and download Venkatesh reading and talking about his book from NPR.   I want to use the excerpt to show you that sociology is scientifically based using research.   There are different ways that sociologists do research and each way has its benefits and drawbacks.  In this case, Venkatesh sets out to do a quantitative survey, but then he changes to a qualitative ethnography observation.  Can you identify some of the ways sociologists might do research and the advantages and disadvantages of each?  (See your textbook for more info on this.)  If you could design a study to examine something from our school, what would you study and how would you research it?  Can you think of both quantitative and qualitative ways to study it?   Can you see how sociologists need both quantatative data and qualitative data to study their subjects? Which do you feel is better for measuring how much you learn in class, quantitative tests like multiple choice or qualitative testing like essays?
Here is Venkatesh speaking on the Colbert Report and he explains that there are important ways of doing research correctly:
Here is a quiz based on sociological research.  Take the quiz and answer True or False for each.  Answer quickly using common sense.  Then scroll down to the bottom of this post to check your answers and see what the point is.

For more about Venkatesh:
Here is Venkatesh speaking about his book and the research he did.  Lastly, here is an interview at slate.com between Venkatesh and Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here).



For more examples of research:
Here is an example of some sociological research from the Pew center.  Notice how the researchers conducted their research.  Choose a study and look for:
1. What were the study's findings?
2.  How did they gather evidence for this finding?
Another example is JSTOR, an online database that you can search by subject.  Click here for the SHS JSTOR Advanced search.  Scroll down to select "sociology" then search any subject you would like.

Answers to the Quiz:
Okay, ready?  All of the answers to this quiz are based on sociological research.  What is important is that research often reveals contradictions to common sense.  That is why sociology is based on research and evidence and not just one person's opinion about society.  So, the answers to the quiz are all false.  That's right!  Go check.  There are reasons that explain each answer.  So, don't be tricked into thinking that sociology is common sense.  Sociology might study everyday life and common issues but the understanding of this might be anything but common sense.

Volunteer Opportunity at GLASA

Great Lakes Adaptive Sports has a number of opportunities for students to volunteer.

  Sleds Are Coming THIS SUNDAY, January 29th, 2017 Lake Forest College Ice Rink; Maplewood Rd, Lake Forest, IL Students will get credit if they arrive PRIOR to puck drop (2:00 pm) and check in with me and stay through the game cheering on and supporting the GLASA Falcon’s Sled Hockey team. They must check in with me after the game as well if they wish to receive credit. If you’ve never seen sled hockey played, this will be a great first experience to how the game is played. **Credit given only if accepted by the teacher prior to the event.

  GLASA Annual Benefit (Gala) Saturday April 29, 2017 Lake Shore Harley-Davidson, 14000 Rockland Rd., Libertyville, IL 60048 As one of our major fundraisers, the money raised at the GLASA Gala supports programs, athlete scholarships, the purchase of adaptive equipment and many more of GLASA’s needs. Volunteers will be needed to assist with set-up throughout the day. During the event, volunteers are needed for serving/bussing, and selling raffle tickets.

  Ongoing Weekly Programs Dates, Times and Locations vary depending on program This season this includes but is not limited to: Sled Hockey, Boccia, Powerlifting, Goalball, Power Soccer, Adaptive Yoga, Tennis, Swim Lessons, Track and Field and Wheelchair Basketball Visit http://www.glasa.org/volunteer/ for more information


  Adult National Open Great Lakes Regional Games (ANO GLRG) June 8-11, 2017 Lake Forest, IL This 3-day event will be host to athletes (youths, adults and injured military) with a physical or visual disability from around the world. These amazing athletes will have the opportunity to compete in a variety of adaptive sports: archery, boccia, swim, powerlifting and track and field. Volunteers will be recruited to fill a variety of needs from logistics, first aid, concessions, and specific sport events. An online signup will be available late April. -

 There are also leadership opportunities for volunteers to take on and receive more service hour credit.

  2017 Rust-Oleum Championship Web.com Tour June 5-11, 2017 Ivanhoe Club; Ivanhoe, IL Volunteers are needed to fill a variety of positions within the golf championship (i.e. Sign Bearers , Hospitality, Marshall, Admissions, Leaderboard, etc.). Interested in this? Contact Micaela ASAP before all positions are filled. Other opportunities with the Rust-Oleum Championship include selling ticket (100% benefiting GLASA) and birdies for charity program (get pledges on the number of birdies during the tournament rounds, 100% benefiting GLASA). Contact Micaela for more information on how you can get more involved.

  Camp Trek **not within your time frame for school but a WONDERFUL experience for anyone planning to teach, coach, go in the medical field, etc. August 7 – 11 (with counselor training being held Friday, August 4), must be present all days Libertyville, IL Camp Trek is a week-long adaptive sports camp for children with physical disabilities and visual impairments. Volunteer counselors will explore a variety of adaptive sports with their assigned camper for the week. This camp is perfect for someone aged 14 and older who is personable, outgoing, loves working with children and enjoys sports. Please PLEASE reach out to me if you are interested in any of these opportunities or if you are looking to take on more of a leadership role (and get more hours!). Thanks! Micaela Fedyniak GLASA Volunteer Coordinator W: 847-283-0908 C: 847-293-4152 www.glasa.org

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Abandon Ship!



We just did an activity based on the real life events that were portrayed in the movie Abandon Ship! (1957). The activity helps to understand the different levels (macrosociology and microsociology) that sociologists study and the Social Construction of Reality. On the macro level, sociologists look for the large-scale groups that people are a part of. For example, students in our class are Americans, teenagers, high-schoolers, from an upper-middle class suburb. All of these groups have an effect on an individual, so that even when an individual makes choices alone, he/she is still being influenced by these groups. On the microsociological level, sociologists study how groups interact in face-to-face conversation. That is who makes eye contact, how loud people speak, where they sit, who is the leader etc...So each class that does this activity is different based on how the group interacts. This activity is a metaphor for any group that you are a part of; all of the groups that shape you are governed by both macrosociological forces and micrsociological forces.  For example, see my example of high school below.

If we examined these two levels in high school, there are certain macrosociological values that one would expect to find no matter where the school is located: grades, learning, homework, rules etc... So as you move from one class to the next, you will see these macrosociological values present. On the other hand, every class is different because of the microsociological dynamics present in that class: some teachers are more casual, some teachers use rows vs. a horseshoe shape, some classes have a few loud boisterous individuals and other classes might be mostly girls or mostly guys etc...

Can you see these two levels at play in your own life? Perhaps in your family, your classes or with a group of friends, or at your job? Think about that lifeboat activity and how it is a metaphor for any of the groups that you are a part of. There are macro forces like culture and social class that affect your group but there are also micro forces at play too such as the dynamic of how the group interacts. For example, because we live in America there are certain things expected of family. Even though we had a child under 2 months of age, my wife and I were expected to be at our jobs working (as opposed to other countries where they give 6 months or more of leave for new parents). But the micro forces are present too - because my wife makes more $ than I do, I work part time and spend the rest of my time being a daddy. Can you see how this plays out with your groups?

And this activity can also be an example of the social construction of reality.  All of those on the boat were shaped by how their character is viewed by the group.  So rather than being seen as an individual, each person's role was viewed a certain way because that's how society has trained us to view that person - such as the elderly couple is old and frail so put them overboard.

As a side note, here is a link to the article in the Daily Herald about the students who met in my class as the football player and cheerleader.   They met in my class and then asked me to marry them!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Special Olympics Bocce ball Volunteers - April 23, 2017

Here is the form to volunteer for the Special Olympics Bocce Ball Area 13 tournament. You do not need to know how to play bocce ball to volunteer. Students will be setting up the courts, keeping score, and handing out awards to the athletes. The Volunteering will be from 8-3:30. Volunteers will receive a t-shirt and a small lunch. Please fill out this form and hit submit if you are interested. Use the embeded form below or here is the link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScKExDehsp8d9wFinnLGi-dAG1xjoZfz5dbnoYH3_BvLv2cDg/viewform?usp=send_form

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Post 2: Posting on your blog to show evidence



Please remember that posting on your blog is the primary way that you provide evidence that you are learning. The posts are what will determine your grade at the end of the semester. Here is a prompt to help you with post number 2:

Explain some of the sociological theory that we have learned thus far: sociological imagination, sociological mindfulness, the three sociological perspectives (founders of sociology) and the social construction of reality. Then give an example from your own life/your own perspective. Also be sure to explain how the sources we looked at relate to the lesson. Remember to write properly using correct spelling and grammar.
Here is the scale that will be used to report your progress:

10 Exceeds Standards
9 Meets Standards
7 Shows some proficiency in the standards, but needs more work.
5 Does not demonstrate any proficiency

Here are the three areas you will graded on:
Sociology Content  - explain the sociology concepts that we learned this week. Demonstrate that individuals are shaped by their social life.
10 Explain multiple concepts that we  learned and apply them to a unique example (your own life or something you watched, etc...)
9 Student fully explains the sociological content using relevant terminology from the class.
7 Student somewhat explains the content from class but does not do it in detail and/or uses little or no sociology concepts or terms.
5 Student completed the assignment but did not explain any sociology at all.

Literacy - demonstrate an understanding of the sources used in class (books, movies, websites, etc…) and be able to connect them to sociological concepts/themes.
10 explain and apply multiple sources from class or a connection of an outside source found by the student.
9 Student refers properly to a source from class and explains its connection to sociology in the student’s own words.
7 Student refers to a source from class but it lacks depth, clarity or correctness.
5 Student completed the assignment but was not correct in interpreting the sources from class.

Academic Expectations - be a part of the community of class; being present and on-time, listen, share, respect, and trust other students; participate in class and write properly.
10 Student contributes to the class through commenting, listening and reading. Student uses proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and clear and academic writing. Student meets deadlines and is on time. Student’s work is neat and professional.
9 Student is able to meet almost all of the expectations above.
7 Student meets some of the expectations.
5 Student turns in the assignment or shows up, but does not meet any of the expectations above


Click here to see a student example of post 2.


The Founders of Sociology: Freaks and Geeks? Three Perspectives


No the founders of sociology were not freaks and geeks, but the series Freaks and Geeks has some great sociological insights in it. In the Pilot episode, (you can watch it here on mediacast)we see that the characters are part of a dynamic that is larger than who they are as individuals. To understand this  dynamic is to have a sociological imagination. Three specific ways of having a sociological imagination are the three founding perspectives of sociology.  These three perspectives were the beginning of sociology.  All three of them were a reaction to the extraordinary changes of the industrial revolution taking place in Europe in the 1800s.  The founder of each of these theories is considered one of the founding fathers of sociology.  Here are the ways that we applied each theory to the tv show:

What are the groups and what functions do they serve? Are there negative influences from any of the groups (dysfunctions)? This is functional theory. It was developed by Emile Durkheim.

Who has power in the episode? How or why do they have power? How do they use it? This is conflict theory. It was first developed by Karl Marx.

What are the important symbols in the episode? Note that the symbols might be an object, but also might be an idea, an event or something else. How do the characters act based on the symbols they find important? This is symbolic interactionism. I like to connect symbolic interactionism to Max Weber.

Can you relate any of these theories to your own life? How can the things you do be interpreted through one of these theories? For example why do you wear what you wear or why are you going to college or why do you stress yourself out to get "good" grades?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Constructing a teenager

Please answer the following questions related to the Parent-teen conflict reading:
1.  What does the author say about media and teen suicide?

2.  What is rolelessness?  How do teens experience it?

3.  How are teens an example of the social construction of reality?

4.  How might some of the tension between teens and parents be caused by the social construction of "teenagers"?


We read an excerpt from sociologist Stephanie Coontz called "Parent-Teen Conflicts."  Hopefully the article helped you see that the idea of a "teenager" is a social construction.  The idea of a teenager has only been around since the 1940s.  Before that, individuals went more from childhood to adulthood very quickly.  Now, the process of childhood has a long drawn out middle period.  This encompasses the "teenage years" but it also includes what sociologists call "young adulthood."  Sociologists estimate the average age of independence in the United States  to be 27.  That is when (on average) individuals can be self-sustaining financially and emotionally and socially enough to have a family and residence of their own.  So this leaves a long middle period between the age of puberty (10) and independence (27).  And throughout that time, there are many mixed messages being given to young adults.  This results in "rolelessness," or a feeling of not knowing what is expected of you during those years.  One example was the lack of meaningful work.  Teens generally have jobs that society deems as unworthy or meaningless.  This can leave teens feeling like they don't matter.  Can you see how Coontz makes that point?  Do you see how that can be true?  Can you see how being a "teenager" is a social construction?  I wonder if by the end of the year, our community service helps erase that notion?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Are you going to eat that? The Social Construction of Reality



There is no difference between spit or saliva except for how we think about each. This is called the social construction of reality. Our reality is how we experience the world. The social construction is that our society or the people around us influences how we experience the world. Hence our experiences(reality) are created (constructed) by others (society). Spitting in different cultures or different situations (baseball) can be experienced differently, i.e. more or less acceptably. For example, most of us have been to baseball games and watched players spit all throughout the game. We didn't get repulsed by that. During one World Series, Reggie Jackson averaged 19 spits per at-bat! Another example is when parents or siblings use their saliva to wipe off a baby's face. We don't find that repulsive, but if a teacher drops saliva onto a desk it becomes gross. This can be true for nearly all of our experiences; feelings of happiness, sorrow, stress, worry. Nearly all of these are created within us by the society we are in.
Here is an example that you might not realize. The Japanese would be grossed out by the typical American bathroom. In Japan, toilets are located in a different room than the shower and bath. And the Japanese shower is always separate from the bath. They see the shower for cleaning and the bath for soaking after you have cleaned. What are some moments in your own life where you experience these feelings, but when you stop and think about it, you realize that the feelings have been created for you by society?
Another way social construction can be illustrated is in our symbols and how they shape our reaction. For example, there is a feeling that you should not walk on the Patriot.There is no real reason why, but it is a social construct. Another example is the faculty restrooms. Some of the restrooms are for individual use, that is one person at a time. These rest rooms are exactly the same: one toilet and one sink. However, the rooms are labelled with "Men's" and "Women's" signs. That makes men feel weird if we use the "women's" room, even though the men's room is exactly the same. (and vice versa). The sign is a social construct that elicits that feeling.

What does the sociological theory “social construction of reality” mean?
Who first coined it?
What is the Thomas Theorem?

How does SCR and TT apply to your life?

Experiencing Sociology...(Community Service)


Hopefully you are willing to try community service with an open mind. I think that most students who have done service experiences before will say that it was rewarding and an overall good experience. Maybe if you have done a service experience before, you can blog about it. Do you see how doing community service might make you sociologically mindful?  What was it like? What went well? What advice would you have for those who have never done it? If you have never done something like that, what do you think about it? What are your concerns and questions?

I think the most challenging aspect of this is to get students to begin thinking about what experience they might want to do without constantly hounding them. I hope you are up for it. This is your homework - find some places that you might be interested and call them! Have at least 2 places in mind by the end of the third week of the semester. Here is the assignment that I call Step 1. Please turn this in by the first progress report.

Some advice that I want to emphasize:
When you call places to volunteer, do NOT say "I have to do community service..." That makes a bad first impression. It sounds like you are being forced. Instead, say "I want to volunteer..." or "I heard it was a really cool experience so I want..." or you can even say, "My teacher told me about this experience so I wanted to try it..."

Be open minded and willing to feel a little uncomfortable. The best learning experiences of my life were when I was willing to put myself in that position.

Some of the more rewarding experiences have been PADS, the Uptown Cafe, and Clearbrook. Try to do these if you are interested, but you may have to do it with a parent or another adult.

Do not wait until the second half of the semester. These experiences take some time to setup. Sometimes the opportunities are filled, so don't wait! The sooner you set this up, the better chance you will have of finding something that is worthwhile and meaningful. If you wait, you will be rushing and you will only find some last-minute, not-so-great opportunity.

Finally, be patient but persistent when contacting these organizations. Many of the organizations are run by unpaid volunteers. Sometimes they do not work regular hours. If they don't get back to you right away, try calling at a different time of day or a different day of the week or try a different number, etc...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Soc mindfulness and the service project

As you enter today, look over you answers from yesterday's questions:
How is a sociological imagination different from being sociologically mindful?
How can the Touchscreen video be an example of a sociological imagination? 
How can the Touchscreen video be used by YOU to be more sociologically mindful?


Bell & Notes for Next Week:
Post 1 - be sure it is up and be sure your blog is on my feedly and my blogpage.
Hand in the movie permission slip.
Reading for next week

Explanation of The Service Project - turn to page 21 of your packet.


Examine the following videoes.  How are they an example of sociological mindfulness?


Here is a Thai commercial that promotes the idea of sociological mindfulness.




"Fired up? Ready to go!" This is a phrase I like to use with my class. It is a way that I like to check in with students and remind them that they are in my class and I want them to feel fired up about it. Sometimes, if you are not feeling fired up, all it takes is repeating this and it can make you fired up. But the phrase is also a fleeting reminder that we all have an influence on our world. Maybe that influence is just the room we are in, but that influence ripples out. So that phrase is a reminder to be sociologically mindful. It is a reminder that we are a participant in society. Society doesn't just happen to us; we are participants in the process. That awareness is what Schwalbe talks about as sociological mindfulness. It can change how we think and act and therefore how we influence the world. "One voice can change a room. And if it can change a room, it can change a city; and if it can change a city it can change a state and if it can change a state, it can change a nation and if it can change a nation, it can change the world." (see the whole story by clicking on this link) Regardless of your political affiliation, I think the sentiment here is true. You can change a room and that can change a much larger group. There's no telling where your influence stops. So, what do you want your voice to be? How do you you want to change the world? Think with sociological mindfulness about the impact you have on the world even though it is small.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sociological Mindfulness

Some Questions for reflection on Schwalbe's Sociological Mindfulness:

1) What does Schwalbe mean by "sociological mindfulness?"

2) How is this different from sociological imagination?

3) Why does Schwalbe say we should bother with sociological mindfulness?

4)What are some ways that you might live your life differently or view aspects of your life differently if you live with sociological mindfulness?  (Try to be as specific as possible.  This is a good place to start for your next post.)  One example is from the slam poem Touchscreen poem we watched.  If you realize that people are influenced by living in this age of technology that is sociological imagination.  And if you question the influence of technology on you and make conscious choices about how to let it influence you, that is sociological mindfulness.

video
Schwalbe's "sociological mindfulness" can be a difficult idea to grasp and Schwalbe admits that.  Mindfulness is a  concept that describes an awareness in world at this moment here and now.  It implies being tuned in to the present moment.  Sociological mindfulness therefore, is being tuned into to both the way in which the present moment is influenced by society and also being tuned into how we are a player in shaping the present moment.  The simple way I look at sociological mindfulness is that it is the mirror image of sociological imagination.  In other words, once we realize that people are influenced by their social setting, we can then realize that influence is happening right now and we are a part of it.  Each of us is both influenced by other people and influencing other people.

So, I think there are 2 critical aspects to sociological mindfulness.

First, in being tuned in to the present moment we can see and appreciate how each individual (including ourselves) is affected by when and where we live and all of the social experiences that entails.  That is, we can think with a sociological imagination about others.  And because we realize that others are impacted by these experiences we can appreciate each person's uniqueness.  This makes us more forgiving of others and of ourselves.

The second part of sociological mindfulness is being tuned into the idea that each of us is a participant in a society.  We all affect the social world, even in little ways.  Each little act we do matters and has an affect on other people.  This aspect has a much longer explanation:

Sociological mindfulness is an awareness that we are being influenced by the world and so we can question that influence and hopefully guide it.  And it is an awareness that we are influencing others and hopefully it makes us question that influence so we can have the impact that we want on our world.  Sociological mindfulness is an awareness that society is dynamic and fluid and we are a part of that. In short, sociological mindfulness is the awareness that how we interact in the world matters!



Another way of thinking about it is in Schwalbe's reading,
Think of the people you love and the kind of life you wish for them...I hope you will consider the possibility that mindfulness may be useful as a way to create better lives for more people.
What kind of life would you wish for those whom you love? How can you affect the world to be more like this way of life? Can you see how humans impact society? How can you make an impact that supports the world you want to live in? I think by answering these questions, students can begin to think with sociological mindfulness.

If you are still having a hard time grasping sociological mindfulness think about the past and all the ways individuals with sociological mindfulness have impacted our world: think about  Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Elenore Roosevelt, Desmond Tutu, Caesar Chavez, Einstein, Mother Theresa, Rabbi Heschel, and think about the movements like the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the women's rights movement, the civil rights movement, the elimination of polio etc... Here is a link to 9 people who changed the world.  And here is 10 acts of courage that changed the world.  All of these people and movements are a product of those who had sociological mindfulness.  Think about Rosa Parks and realize that her actions changed the people on that bus and that changed the people of the city which changed our nation and that has influenced the world's view of human rights and the dignity of all human beings.  Our actions in day to day life, like where we sit on the bus and how we treat others can make a difference.   That awareness is sociological mindfulness.  In my personal life, it might be my parents sending me to college even though they themselves never went there and they didn't have the money.  My grandfather might have had sociological mindfulness when he came alone to America in 1916 at age 15.  He wanted a better life for his future and his family's future.  Both, my parents and my grandparents had an awareness that their choices mattered and that their choices affected the future.  So they made the best decision they could for my future based on that awareness.

The Starfish Parable is another way to think about being sociologically mindful
One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, "I'm saving these starfish, Sir".
The old man chuckled aloud, "Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?"
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, "It made a difference to that one!"
 We cannot change the world, but by being aware of how our actions affect those around us, we can make a difference for those who we do come into contact with us.

This reminds me of chaos theory which is a modern theory of science and math that events sometimes seem random but really they are part of a complex system.  Sometimes the butterfly effect is used an example - that the world is so connected and reliant on all processes that the wind from a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico might contribute to a typhoon across the pacific in Japan.  This thinking applied to society might be considered sociological mindfulness.

I like the video from Louis CK about soc imagination. Here is an article that explains if we can be more mindful of the technology, we can be more appreciative of it and thus live a more fulfilled and happier life.

Here is a Thai commercial that promotes the idea of sociological mindfulness.


 Here is a video that highlights sociological mindfulness from a radical perspective.
video


For a further understanding of this idea, you click on the link to "sociological mindfulness" and see some of my posts about it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Extending your sociological imagination

As you enter class today, please answer these questions:

1. What is a sociological imagination?



2.  Why is the reading Outliers an example of having a sociological imagination?




Here is a moving and inspiring slam poetry performance by Marshall Soulful Jones called Touchscreen:
 
Here is some interesting research to follow up with Marshall Jones' poem:

From Psychology Today:
...the emergence of reading encouraged our brains to be focused and imaginative. In contrast, the rise of the Internet is strengthening our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently ...
From The Independent:
A Wisconsin paediatrician, Dr Sharon Rink, told local news channel WBAY2 she has seen a surge of teenagers coming to see her for treatment [because of selfies], something which was unheard of five years ago.
Please Answer:

3)How is Marshall Jones' poem an example of having a sociological imagination?


4)What are some ways you are influenced by when and where you live?



Finally, for a bit of humor, watch this Louis CK video called Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy.    He provides a funny look at how not having a sociological imagination can makes us really annoyed with our problems but really we should be thankful. Also the twitter feed #FirstWorldPains is a humorous example of this.

Fired up and ready to go!

"Fired up? Ready to go!"

This is a phrase I like to use with my class.  It is a way that I like to check in with students and remind them that they are in my class and I want them to feel fired up about it.  Sometimes, if you are not feeling fired up, all it takes is repeating this and it can make you fired up.

But the phrase is also a fleeting reminder that we all have an influence on our world.  Maybe that influence is just the room we are in, but that influence ripples out.  So that phrase is a reminder to be sociologically mindful.  It is a reminder that we are a participant in society.  Society doesn't just happen to us; we are participants in the process.  That awareness is what Schwalbe talks about as sociological mindfulness.  It can change how we think and act and therefore how we influence the world.

"One voice can change a room. And if it can change a room, it can change a city; and if it can change a city it can change a state and if it can change a state, it can change a nation and if it can change a nation, it can change the world." (see the whole story by clicking on this link)
Regardless of your political affiliation, I think the sentiment here is true. You can change a room and that can change a much larger group. There's no telling where your influence stops. So, what do you want your voice to be? How do you you want to change the world? Think with sociological mindfulness about the impact you have on the world even though it is small.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Immunity and Community



1. Describe life in Roseto.

2.  What did Dr. Wolf set out to study originally?

3.  What did he find instead?

4. Were the people aware of these effects? Explain.

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell uses a sociological imagination to understand extreme success stories (aka Outliers). Using the introduction to understand sociology we see a few important ideas.
First, sociologists study how people are affected by their social groups. People are influenced by the groups they are a part of, whether it is family, a church, a town, etc. This often contradicts the idea that people are the sum total of their own individual genes and decisions. An important sociologist, C Wright Mills, calls this having a sociological imagination. He says that one must understand the history and the biography of an individual to understand who they are. That is, people are influenced by when and where they live.
Second, we see that sociologists do not simply make opinions or philosophical ideas, rather they make claims based on research and data.
Lastly, understanding sociology can change how we think about the world and who we are. For example, in this excerpt, one might change how he thinks about good health.
Do you see how the excerpt highlights these three ideas? Can you use your sociological imagination to think about your own life or your own troubles?
The rest of Gladwell's book uses a sociological imagination to explain extreme success stories. For example, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs tremendous success and wealth stemming from the development of computers:
Gladwell describes how being born in the mid 1950s was particularly fortuitous for those interested in computer programming development (think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, both born in 1955). It also helped to be geographically near what were then called supercomputers, the gigantic predecessors to the thing on which you’re reading this post. Back in the 1960s, when Gates and Jobs were coming of age, a supercomputer took up a whole room and was not something most youngsters would have had a chance to see, let alone work on. But because of their proximity to actual computers, both Gates and Jobs had a leg up on others their age and had the chance to spend hours and hours (10,000 of them in Gladwell’s estimation) learning about programming.
We can apply this model to more than just financial success. Think about what opportunities your own biography and history have afforded you. How has when, where, and to whom you were born shaped your life today?